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Mayor of Savanna-La-Mar and Chairman of the Westmoreland Parish Council, Bertel Moore, has called on persons to desist from setting cane fires in the parish, as they are destroying the industry.

Addressing the Westmoreland Parish Council meeting on January 13, Mayor Moore said that the fires were causing great havoc on the Frome sugar factory and on the production target for this year’s crop.

Some 136 illicit cane fires have been recorded in Westmoreland since the start of the 2010/2011 sugar cane crop.

“Illicit cane fires are plaguing the parish of Westmoreland.  As we all know, the sugar industry is the bread-basket for us here in Westmoreland and if we destroy the cane fields before reaping time, when some of the farmers don’t have orders to reap the canes,  then it is going to cause serious economic problems in the parish,” the Mayor told the meeting.

He pleaded with the residents of the parish in the cane belt to be vigilant and to assist the factory as well as other farmers “to ensure that these destructive cane fires are drastically reduced.”

Deputy Mayor and Councillor for the Frome Division, Paul Wilson, supported the call by the Mayor.

“I am using this occasion to appeal to all residents of the parish of Westmoreland to desist from the practice of illicit cane fires. That will only serve to destroy an already fragile industry, which faces many challenges. Whatever areas of discontent you may have, please use the established channels of speaking to the management at Frome,” he advised.

Illicit cane fires are reportedly costing the industry millions of dollars each year. It is estimated that there was a $200 million loss as a result of illicit fires last year.